UCSB will offer its first fully online courses during this year’s Summer Sessions for students seeking the convenience of a UC education from home.

Session A will feature Geography 8: Living with Global Warming, while Session B will offer Chemistry 142A: Biochemistry Lecture; Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, 108A: General Biochemistry and Probability and Statistics 120A. The classes are pending re-approval for the regular academic year and will undergo a strict assessment process to evaluate their effectiveness before the Academic Senate determines whether to offer future online courses.

According to Dean of Summer Sessions Carol Pasternack, the program will gauge whether online courses can effectively replicate a UC-quality education.

“The program was begun to see what UCSB could do to well-designed online classes for UCSB curriculum and students,” Pasternack said. “It can answer the questions that faculty and administrators have about quality we can get from online [classes] and campus policies for the role of online education at UCSB.”

Although many classes on campus already incorporate digital components such as GauchoSpace, Pasternack said the summer courses’ fully-online curriculum can potentially resolve administrative issues like limited enrollment space in impacted classes.

Third-year communications and sociology major Kathleen Reyes said digital classrooms could address overcrowding issues impeding students’ abilities to

fulfill academic requirements.

“Crashing is such a pain and having online courses will be so helpful to many students,” Reyes said.

The faculty and student-recommended courses were designed to deliver the same amount of teaching and participation offered in a traditional class setting. Professors will continue to interact with students through online means such as office hours via Skype.

Chelsey Castellon, a third-year global studies major, said the classes are particularly useful for undergraduates who need extra units and are unable to live near campus during summer.

“Students can do schooling online and can take their classes wherever they go and if they are behind a few units, it lets them catch up without having to commit to summer school,” Castellon said.

Pasternack said the courses aim to provide a unique academic contribution for participants.

“For students, I hope they find it a beneficial way to interact with the academic content,” Pasternack said. “It is a kind of learning that can be helpful for students to engage in.”

Registration for Summer 2012 classes will be open to all UC and visiting students beginning May 1. For additional information about summer classes, visit www.summer.ucsb.edu.